Mental Health Awareness Week: Kindness Matters

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As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Longmores would like to publicise the particular difficulties encountered by many of our older and vulnerable clients.

Many clients received letters a few weeks ago from the NHS informing them that they were “clinically extremely vulnerable” and therefore were at higher risk from getting Coronavirus and becoming seriously ill. As a result, they were told that they needed to stay at home at all times and had to stay at least two metres away from other people even in their own home. They were prevented from having visitors including friends and family unless they were necessary to provide essential care to them.

This forced, and immediate, social isolation has had a great impact on some who were previously socially active, or who relied on contact with others. For those in this high risk category, who live alone this forced solitary confinement is even more difficult. Whilst social technology such as Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Teams, and other platforms enable many users to have video calls with others, many of these methods of communication may be completely unavailable to those who are older and less technologically “savvy” or those who may have physical difficulties as well as those who simply do not have the finances for the latest technological gadgets.

The older and vulnerable client team at Longmores has a large proportion of its clients who fall into the high-risk/clinically extremely vulnerable category as well as a large number of clients who are at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) who are also affected by the social distancing rules. Whilst those in the moderate risk category did not receive a letter from NHS advising them to stay at home at all times, the impact on their mental wellbeing has also been affected by the inability of being able to see friends and family.

Boredom, anxiety, stress, and depression are all common symptoms felt by those living alone, but the lack of interaction with others will also have a great impact on keeping people’s mind active during their lockdown.

A further disadvantage of the lockdown and need to stay in their own home, will be the lack of physical exercise that many will have encountered. Not all clients will have access to an outside garden where they can exercise as demonstrated by Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore and his sponsored walk. The lack of physical activity is often detrimental to a person’s mental wellbeing.

Whilst the lockdown rules have relaxed a little over the last week or so, they may still be unable to see their friends and family under the current regulations unless they are able to exercise in the same public place whilst keeping two metres apart.

During the lockdown period we have taken a great number of new instructions for Wills, and Powers of Attorney. The challenge as solicitors for older and vulnerable clients has been ensuring that the wills and lasting powers of attorney that we prepare are then correctly and legally witnessed whilst social distancing is still respected. Providing clients with the knowledge that their affairs are now in order, can often be of great support to our clients.

More information about Mental Health Awareness Week can be found on the Mental Health Foundation website.

If you, or anybody you know, is in need of advice about their personal affairs, please contact Charles Fraser who specialises in looking after older and vulnerable clients.